Port Dover was first inhabited by the Neutral First Nations . For more than 200 years, Port Dover was host to many native people, European explorers and missionaries, who enjoyed a humble existence along the shores of Lake Erie. The village, settled by United Empire Loyalists in the early 1800’s was first named Dover Mills, after the port of Dover in England. The village was later burned to the ground by Americans in the War of 1812. The town was rebuilt in the 1830’s and the name changed to Port Dover.
With its location on the lake, its mild temperature and beautiful countryside, Port Dover has much to offer. In the summer, Port Dover is busy with thousands of tourists who come to swim in Lake Erie and bask on its sandy beaches. At one time, the fresh water fishing fleet based in the town's harbour was believed to be the largest in the world. Even with declining fish stocks, both commercial and sport fishing continues to be important to the community.
Since 1981, there has been a tradition for motorcycle enthusiasts to flock to the town on every Friday the 13 th. Fishfest, in July is an annual celebration of Port Dover’s fishing heritage, which takes place at the harbourfront. The town comes alive with live music, boat parades, fireworks, cardboard boat races, tug pulls, tote races, "Bathing Brutes and Beauties" contests, refreshments, and a midway.